Wyoming is steeped in the spirit of the American West. The state evokes vivid images: cattle standing in the lee of snow fences, children riding horses along dusty dirt roads, weather-beaten ranches lit by the slanting light of late afternoon, and cow towns where the area code is larger than the population. Wyoming is the original ‘Wild West,’ the real-life inspiration for countless novels, movies, and songs. In the open spaces of Wyoming, the sky takes on its own importance and thus the state’s name ‘Big Sky Country.’ Sometimes the sky makes the land seem like an afterthought. The land changes slowly with the seasons first a carpet of winter white, then the mud and first luminescent green buds of spring growth, the verdant summer flowers, finally the brilliance of cottonwood trees along a dry creekbed.

But the sky changes moment by moment throughout each day. Clouds float overhead, sending moving shadows across the landscape and coloring the sun’s light. Storm clouds build quickly on summer afternoons. Lightning leaps from clouds to earth. Some of the most memorable times are the lingering sunsets, when colors bounce back and forth across the sky, finally exiting on the western horizon. At night, an enormous panorama of stars arches above, undimmed by city lights.

The best way to see Wyoming is from the small asphalt and gravel roads where the pace slows and tumbleweeds pile against fences. From the freeways, the landscape is just a blur, but along the back roads the same land becomes a thing of surreal beauty. Old ranches hunker in the valleys, herds of deer and antelope glance up at passing cars, rock pinnacles crown the hills, and winding streams become silver ribbons of light.

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